Grace to you!
Last week, we started a reflection on the Sermon on the Mount and I promised to walk us through it for the next two weeks. We have already reflected on four of the eight Beatitudes. Permit me to skip the reflections on The Beatitudes and talk briefly about the inspirations we can draw from the life of Saint Anthony of Padua.
I am attracted to talk about St. Anthony because today, in the Catholic tradition, we celebrate his exemplary holy life. Secondary, and of less importance, many of my friends are from Portugal. The fight between the Portuguese and the Italians over who has the superior right of proprietorship over St. Anthony continues.
Hence those from Portugal call him Saint Anthony of Lisbon. Padua was where he spent most of his life as a priest and evangelist. Lisbon was his birthplace. Many people want to identify with him because he is a role model to them.
If the Gospel of Luke 10:1-9, the story popularly known as the mission of the seventy, where Jesus commissioned seventy people to go out and evangelize were to be re-told, St. Anthony’s life and missionary works could easily find a place in the book.
Hardly is a saint canonized a year after his death. But not so with Saint Anthony whose canonization came about a year after he died. He died on June 13, 1231 at the age of 36, but in that short time, he had touched lives all over Italy. People from all walks of life, clergy and lay, were inspired, as well as challenged by his sermons. The posthumous miracles that flooded through his intercessions were so numerous that he was called “wonder worker.”
Known most popularly as the patron saint for locating lost objects, he became a Franciscan probably because he saw how five Franciscans who were missionaries to Morocco were martyred. He knew them. He met with them when they came to Lisbon. So, when he heard they died for the faith, he wanted to go to Morocco too, not to fight the murderers, but to continue the preaching of those missionaries and possibly die as they did.
Strange courage, isn’t it? But God had another plan. The plan was to take him to Italy where he surprised everyone during an important religious gathering. Many priests – Dominicans, Franciscans, etc., were present.
During the time for the homily, no one was ready to preach. Anthony became the scapegoat. He preached, extempore, with such power and sound theology that his fame spread everywhere. The rest about this unknown friar was history.
Anthony became the greatest Franciscan preacher during his time. Saint Francis, the Founder of the Franciscan Order, invited him personally to be an official preacher of the Order, a theology teacher for the friars, and to preach across Italy.
St. Anthony’s deep, unalloyed love for the Lord is commendable. It’s also love for the poor, the wounded and those thirsty for God. His love for evangelization inspired his search for knowledge and devotion.
Thirst, hunger for the Lord and his cause, and you will find that you will be God’s special instrument for the healing of many, including helping others find what is missing in their lives.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.